The unthinkable

A baby has died. A teeny tiny member of our small community is gone.

I can’t, I won’t even try, to fathom what is going on in the hearts of his parents. It is too unbearable to imagine.

For everyone who is a parent, it is our worst nightmare; it is the possibility that keeps us up at night worrying. It is the reason why we yell at our child for crossing the street without looking. It is the driving force behind standing over a sleeping child searching for the rise and fall of gentle breathing.

For me, it is the fear that has given me cause to wonder if I really am cut out for this parenting gig.

With my children having reached the ages of 21, 19, and 17, that fear has not diminished even an ounce. The only thing that has changed is the possible cause of death; car accident instead of SIDS, fatal football head injury instead of choking on a Lego.

Instead of hovering over my sleeping child as I did when they were small, I now hover, waiting for them to return for the night and go to sleep.

Today, no one is sure what has happened, why this child has come and gone as quickly as he has. All we know is that he is gone.

Does it matter what happened? A very wise woman said that to wonder about the hows and whys distracts us from dealing with the fact that this baby is gone…forever.

My sadness is so very deep.

As it is within our small, insulated world. There is a collective grief that many feel and we don’t necessarily know what to do with that pain.

As I fumble around, remembering the weight of that tiny man in my arms (wailing, because I am definitely not a baby-whisperer) I also see something beautiful happening.

I see community. I see that what exists in our town is strong and unique and loving.

People everywhere are throwing around the catchphrase “community.” It’s hip and trendy to “create community.”

The reality is that if you open your eyes and your heart here in this valley, we already have it in spades.

Folks who don’t even know this family are crying tears and rallying to help in any way that they can. Food, money, childcare for the sister…it doesn’t matter what, how big or how small. What matters is that a child has died, there are people suffering, and the love that flows through our town is astounding.

One of my chickens was killed yesterday.

My son hit and killed a fawn less than an hour later.

Death.

Death of the innocent, death of the young.

I know that my chicken and that baby deer are not someone’s child and that my pain over my girl is piddly in comparison to my friends’ pain, but I feel surrounded by death.

And that is painful.

Unbearably so.

And, I appreciate living so close to the natural world that I can see that yes, creatures are born and creatures die before what we think is their time.

Today it doesn’t make this child’s death any less brutal, but maybe some day it will help with the hows and the whys.

I think that I am rambling here. I want to talk about this, I want to process the grief, and yet I don’t want to make this about me. I don’t want to presume to hurt anywhere near as much as mom and dad. And I certainly don’t want to be a gossip.

But death needs to be talked about and picked at and felt. Our culture is at a complete and utter loss when it comes to grief. If one is not devoutly religious then it is likely that there is no set of guidelines for how to cope with the unimaginable.

For anyone who has seen Rabbit Proof Fence, there was a scene where a grandmother’s children are taken from her. She collapses on the ground and beats her own head with a rock. It struck me as beautiful. In moments of intense agony, who wouldn’t beat themselves with a stone?

I loved that it was accepted.

We don’t have that. If someone saw me beating my own brains out they’d call the cops.

So we make food. We show up at friends’ homes at 9:30 at night to just have a little bit of company and not feel so alone. We accept the parents right where they are and do not judge. We worry; about the mother, the father, the sister, the grandmother. We talk about the child, the sadness, the hows and whys, because whether those things matter in the big picture or not, sharing those thoughts helps us to bond as an extended family.

We say the words coroner, autopsy, burial, in hopes that speaking them will take just a little bit of the power, the rawness, out of them.

If I can say autopsy, then hopefully it will help Mom and Dad say it too.

Because it is an unbearable word to use in the same sentence as your child’s name.

We gather together and pick at the wound – perhaps if we pick enough scar tissue will develop and the pain will lessen.

We create the container that will hopefully help this family in feeling loved and supported and not alone in this agony.

 

 

 

Such great news (said with deep sarcasm)

My sons’ friend had a healthy baby boy last night. Yay!

He’s 17. She’s, maybe, 16.

Yay!

She still has braces.

It’s so sad.  I know that they are happy – who isn’t when they hold their baby for the first time.

And I know, (or assume) that after wrapping her head around the whole idea, Mom is happy to be a grandmother.

I can’t imagine not loving your first grandchild.

But wouldn’t you want that to happen a bit later in everyone’s lives?

But let’s add some weirdness to the weirdness…

My sons’ 50 year old father just had a baby 2 weeks ago.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Playdates.

Doesn’t anyone know anything about birth control?

The dad thing is ridiculous. The friend thing is just really sad.

I’m not being judgmental as much as I am being a mom – a mom who could barely handle being a mamma at 32 because I felt totally ill-equipped. I can’t imagine what a 16 year old has got to feel like.

And as much as I love my babies, I still think about things I didn’t do before I had them – when I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I wouldn’t trade it, but there are certainly things that I wish I had experienced, places I wish I had gone, adventures had.

And I was 32 – What the fuck do you think when you’re 16 or 17? “Oh. I’ll have plenty of time for all of that because my child will be out of the house by the time I’m 35?

Okay, admittedly, that’s appealing.

All I know is that I would be devastated if one of my boys came home to tell me he’s having a baby and a future in this town working at the grocery store. It makes it hard to breathe.

Those two kids, with their new family photo on Facebook, are just babies – babies playing house.

Until they get home and realize that it’s not a game.

And my sons’ dad – he’s got 2 under 2. Good luck on that one.

 

 

 

pros and cons of moving south

There are many of each and they all rattle around in my brain confusing the shit out of me.

Some days it seems like I could never leave here, others, it would be a piece of cake.

When I got off the plane 2 days ago, I was slightly let down; I didn’t feel that same sense of relief that normally accompanies my arrival here on The Plateau.

I missed my curls, 50 shades of green, and my mommy and daddy.

The hours back here have been riddled with uncertainty and confusion, longing and ungroundedness.

My children’s football coach is our new favorite nanny. My friend had the most beautiful baby ever last night. The leaves have turned every color orange in the spectrum. MCB is hunting for an Elk.tuleelk.bull.modcrop.2725

My life feels perfect.

In the South, I could see my folks every single day. I could swim with Manatees whenever I wanted. I could become a SUP-er and have killer abs. I could run at sea level on the sand and my back would feel brand new. I could hang out with gals I knew in my childhood days. My kids could gain residency and go to one of the really good state colleges.

Round and round. So badly that I haven’t even been able to talk about it with anyone.  Hearing others’ advice at the moment is just plain irritating to me because then I feel like whatever they think, they’re not seeing “the other side.”

I really like the idea of no more winters, no more cold, no more falling down on the ice.

But I pulled this killer orange sweater out of the closet today to wear to work and thought, “Where could I shop down there?”

gators2Seriously – my clothes are a huge part of my artistic being and I am not so sure that Navy and White (standard colors when pink and green are not in season) are that inspiring.

I could be the oddity and wear my red cowgirl boots to the beach? I could melt inside my glorious purple, fake mink evening jacket?503540190_product_1

I could try to start a new sparkle-beanie trend?

 

Or I could shop at Lilly Pulitzer.

I actually do shop there, but wearing Lilly here in the West is fun. Wearing it there is just mainstream.2-lilly-pulitzer-spring-summer-2014-collection.jpg

And I don’t know how to do mainstream.

And I don’t want to learn.

But, now that I am thinking about it, I bet I could score some outrageous vintage librarian sweaters and gingham golf pants.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s hope yet.leroy

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How it is in my town

“How’s that new baby doing?”barrels07

“He’s so great.  Almost 3 weeks now.”

“And how’s mama?”

“Great. Got back to barrel racing last weekend.”

Hot dang, makes my uterus hurt.